Kobe Bryant nailed it. AUU basketball for youth stinks. Say Kobe, "Horrible, terrible, AAU basketball stupid. It doesn't teach our kids how to play the game at all. They (the kids) don't know the fundamentals of the game."
Last night I was witness to what Kobe was talking about. My wife and I drove to a mega-basketball venue called Courtside Palace where we paid ten bucks a person to watch her grandson. His team played four games in one day. We only watched two. The Courtside Palace is one of two huge AAU basketball arena next in the same area containing eight basketball courts, all of them in use. One team off, one team on. It's a supermarket of basketball. Teams come from a hundred mile radius to play against each other. The games have referees and coaches. The refs seem good enough. The coaching? That's another story. I watched horrified at the lack of fundamentals on display. There was plenty of fancy dribbling, (I hear you Kobe) most with little effect, lots of three point shooting, tons of turnovers, virtually no blocking off the boards, and defenses so porous that any player who put his head down and drove made it safely into the paint. Freethrow shooting was abysmal. Weakside defense was non existent.
From what I saw, it's clear that AAU youth basketball stresses playing games over teaching skills. Too bad for the future of American basketball. I'm nut sure parents understand what's happening to their children. They better listen to Kobe Bryant and call for some fundamental changes. But maybe that's unimportant to them. I saw lots of tall dads dreaming of college scholarship. Is that what this is all about?
High school coaches, what do you have to say about the AAU? Or doesn't it matter to you if these young kids come into your programs with zero fundamentals?
I found this strange little poem by Susan Bright about tennis but the message could be about all sports. What it says about young players is important.
"If I played myself last year,
I'd beat her."
- Martina Navratilova
I let roots pull foot tendons
until I am just about
I know what
I can get away with.
When I am tired,
The young ones
run circles around me,
They do everything
That is how I keep up
What my musings are all about...
Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.
The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.
The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.